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Accusations, emotions fly during lengthy elections testimony

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Nov 27 2012 02:36:33 PM HST
Updated On: Nov 27 2012 11:15:54 PM HST

Accusations and emotions were flying at a meeting to figure out why dozens of polling places during the general election ran out of ballots.

HONOLULU -

Accusations and emotions flew at an elections commission meeting on Tuesday, to try and address the ballot shortage fiasco that turned Hawaii's general election into a nightmare.

Ultimately, the commission decided to appoint a two-member subcommittee to help the commission slog though the details before members make a decision on what to do next.  That committee will convene with the elections commission in early January.

During the more than three hour testimony, Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi said she wants the state to return control to Hawaii County to run its operations.

She once again accused Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago of poor communication and for not shouldering enough of the blame for what went wrong during the primary and the general.

She also said t-shirts printed for general election staffers, that showed a polling book with Hawaii County and her polling place checkmarked was a personal attack and she demanded an apology from Nago.

Nago did not say the move was done purposefully, but did offer an apology.

He also revealed elections supervisor Lori Tomscyk, who was overseeing ballot operations on the Big Island during the general, was relieved of her duties, because he said she was the one who came up with the calculation on how many ballots to order during the general.

At its core, that calculation was based on voter registration numbers for the primary.

The primary typically has lower turnout than the general, but he said the 2012 primary was the only election to date that reflected the current redistricted lines.

Nago said that calculation will never be used again, and they are in the process of discussing which calculation they should go by in the future.

Two commission members called for enough ballots to be printed to cover 100% of the voters registered in Hawaii, a request Nago said is not done in any other state or county.

Sen. Sam Slom and a few other testifiers demanded Nago be fired and possibly other staff replaced.

The commission reminded attendants the members are all voluntary, hold other jobs, and some live on other islands.  Chair Bill Martson, who lives on Kauai, said they will work with the new subcommittee to make a decision soon after the January meeting.

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